The places you went in 2018 included everywhere from Australia to the Americas, Cambodia to Calabria, and Italy to Indonesia. Those are the places you, our readers, spent time searching for, reading about and booking travel to on Grantourismo in 2018.
It’s that time of the year when we all take some time to reflect, when we look back at the year that’s almost over and assess what went well and what didn’t go so well, so we can learn some lessons to take into the new year.
Online travel publishers like ourselves spend time scrutinising our visitor stats to see what you were searching for to have arrived on our site – whether you were regular readers or people visiting for the first time – and once here, where you spent most of your time, and where you actually booked holidays.
It’s a fascinating exercise that always holds a few surprises for us. For instance, we had no idea you were digging into our posts on the Americas – everywhere from Mexico City and San Miguel de Allende – as much as you were; and while our Dubai stories remain perennially popular, we didn’t realise our posts on other Middle East destinations – from Doha to the desert areas of Jordan – would make it into the top places you went in 2018.
We thought you might find these results as interesting as we do – and hopefully find these destinations and the stories, images, guides, and itineraries we’ve created as inspiring as other readers did. These are the places you went in 2018. We can’t wait to see where you’re headed in 2019.
These are the places you, our readers, spent your time searching for, reading about and booking travel to in 2018.
Places You Went in 2018 – From Cambodia to Calabria
Australia topped our list of places you went in 2018 and while breathtaking landscapes – from Uluru to Kakadu and the Kimberley – brilliant food and wine, the world’s best beaches (which are pretty much mostly located in Australia, especially Western Australia), sublime sunsets, great Australian train journeys, epic Australian road trips, an abundance of outdoor activities, and engaging indigenous experiences were big appeals, we reckon it probably had something to do with the value of the currency, too. It was not a good year for the Aussie dollar, which is currently valued at just 70 Australian cents to the US dollar. What that means for you is that a country that’s normally an expensive destination for overseas visitors has become much more affordable. While most of you arrived on Grantourismo having searched for Australia, and you spent time on all of our destination pages, especially Sydney, Melbourne and the Gold Coast, it was sunny Perth and Western Australia, particularly the Margaret River food and wine region, where you most spent your time – especially after Qantas launched its non-stop Perth to London flights earlier this year.
It’s no surprise that Cambodia was next on our list of places you went in 2018, considering we are based here and have so many stories and guides on the destination that we are constantly updating. But while the country gets most of its visitors during the winter high season (right now), you visited Grantourismo fairly consistently throughout the year searching for information, especially on Cambodian food, the best Cambodian restaurants, and a culinary movement I’ve called New Cambodian Cuisine. but also on Siem Reap, from Angkor Wat (you especially like our comprehensive Angkor guide) and to lesser visited archaeological sites, such as Phnom Kulen, to Siem Reap hotels, Siem Reap markets and things to do in Siem Reap – which is reassuring considering we’re soon launching a new Siem Reap project. We’re curious if the sudden interest in Cambodian food, especially in the USA, is a result of Cambodian restaurant Nyum Bai in Oakland, California, appearing on numerous ‘best’ lists in the US, including Bon Appétit’s Hot 10, and Eater’s best new restaurants list. Chef Nite Yun was named an Eater Young Gun, and 2018’s Breakout Star of the Year, and a chef to watch in 2019, and we’re looking forward to meeting her next year.
We weren’t surprised that Europe was one of the top places you went in 2018, as Paris, London, Milan, Mallorca, and Barcelona were in the top 20 of world’s most visited cities in 2018 according to the Global Destinations Cities Index. We covered Europe as travel writers for many years and spent six months of bit of time there on our 2010 grand tour. While you seemed content to browse our many Europe destinations, it was Barcelona and Mallorca, along with the Italian Lakes and Kotor, where you spent most of your time. You did road trips around Italy’s Lakes, explored the gardens and villas of the Italian Lakes and booked lakeside grand hotels. In Kotor, you all seemed to do the climb up to the Castle of San Giovanni or Castle of St John and take walks around Kotor’s old city. We’re particularly pleased to see that our interview last month with Guillermo Jaques, co-founder of responsible tour company Slow Barcelona, on how you can get off the beaten track in Barcelona and help reduce overtourism is proving especially popular. One of the things he recommends, which we’ve long encouraged, is to go off-season so it’s great to see the post is getting a lot of traffic right now.
We were pleased to see that Vietnam was another of the top places you went in 2018 and that so many of you arrived on Grantourismo having searched for Vietnam. It was also heartening to see you browsing beyond obvious places such as Saigon, Hoi An, Hanoi and Halong Bay (as much as we adore them) and see you exploring destinations such as Dalat, one of our favourite cities in Vietnam, for its fresh mountain air, fantastic street food and locally grown and roasted coffee, and Sapa for its eco-lodges and home-stays and a long list of things to do, from hiking the picturesque rice terraces to shopping the markets for handicrafts made by its ethnic minorities. We lived in Vietnam for a bit in 2013 (the plan was to move there), get back when we can (though not nearly enough), but we’re intending to change that in 2019, so expect to see more posts on Vietnam going up on Grantourismo next year.
The Indonesian island of Bali was one of the top places you went in 2018 and there are no shocks there as it is a favourite with our Australian compatriots for its surfing beaches, brilliant restaurants and terrific shopping, and many of you are Aussies. Our American readers also have a soft spot for the Hindu island, although it’s not exactly in their backyard. Ubud is a popular destination for our readers, although we were happy to see you exploring Yogyakarta on the neighbouring island of Java, and perusing our posts on its atmospheric boutique hotels and luxury resorts, its wonderful food (especially the turmeric-laden soto ayam noodle soup we became smitten with), and the monumental Buddhist and Hindu temples of Borobudur and Prambanan. Poor Indonesia has suffered a great deal this year with volcano eruptions, earthquakes and tsunamis, and the tragic losses of lives as a result. We’ll be sharing a lot more stories from all destinations in the new year.
Of course, it is no surprise at all that Thailand was one of the top places you went in 2018, with Bangkok being the world’s most visited destination in 2018 and Phuket coming in at #12 according to the Global Destinations Cities Index. We’ve been covering the country since we updated a Thailand guidebook for DK back in 2007 and based ourselves in Bangkok in 2011-2012 and we get to Thailand frequently, so Grantourismo is jam-packed with posts. We’re pleased to see you were perusing everything from our stories on Bangkok’s riverside renaissance and ‘secret’ island Koh Kred to interviews with Bangkok chefs, such as chef Ton of Le Du, Chalee Kader of 100 Mahaseth, and Riley Sanders of Canvas. Along with Bangkok and Phuket, you seemed to get good use out of our Chiang Mai stories, and, as we’d expect, it’s our food stories that you spend the most time on, from our Chiang Mai itinerary for food lovers and guide to local Lanna dishes to Chiang Mai’s charming accommodation. We were also chuffed to see you exploring Thailand’s off the beaten track Isaan region, using our 2-week Isaan road trip itinerary and reading our posts on the cool foodie destination of Khon Kaen to the Khmer temples of Prasat Phanom Rung and Prasat Muang Tam. Expect to see lots more stories on Thailand in 2019 from our recent trips.
Who doesn’t love Italy? It’s easily one of our most favourite countries in the world, which is why we spent so many years criss-crossing the country for guidebooks, and it’s obvious that it’s one of your favourites, too. Italy was one of the top places you went in 2018, spending most of your time browsing our posts and booking tours and hotels on the Italian Lakes, Venice, Alberobello in Puglia, Sardinia, and perhaps somewhat surprisingly, Calabria. Since we wrote the first English language guidebook to Calabria well over a decade ago we’ve been saying every year that this will be the year that Calabria becomes the next Puglia, but some travellers are still discovering Puglia and only just moving on to Basilicata. Maybe 2019 will be Calabria’s year after all. We’re predicting it will be, having seen how much time you’re spending on our Calabria stories. And, I mean, just look at how gorgeous the region is – the image above is of one of Calabria’s atmospheric hilltop towns.
So where are you going in 2019? Do let us know how we can help you. If there’s something you can’t find on Grantourismo, perhaps a destination we haven’t covered yet, just let us know and we’ll see what we can do about that.